Monday, December 03, 2012

How Washington, D.C., Schools Cheat Their Students Twice

Caleb Rossiter has an article up at the Wall Street Journal on DCPS's Credit Recovery classes.  Credit Recovery classes allow a student to make up for a failed semester by taking a special class for a few weeks.  As you can tell by the title it is not complementary.  The article is behind the WSJ pay wall, but here's the meat of it:

In Credit Recovery, students who have failed a semester-long course attend a special class after school for a few weeks and magically earn credit for it—without taking a mastery exam. It is a big reason why the 50% of high-poverty, public-school students who actually graduate from high school are generally helpless before a college curriculum. 
The dirty little secret of American education is that not only do half of students in high-poverty high schools drop out, but most of those who graduate—as I found in my two years teaching and testing students—operate at about the fifth-grade level in academics, organization and behavior. These graduates must then take noncredit remedial courses should they try to go to college 
Of my ninth-graders last year, only 10% were present in class more than three days a week, and a full 50% attended two days a week or fewer. When they did attend, the chronically absent did virtually none of the class work or homework. As a result, I thought it remarkable that a mere 68% of my ninth-graders failed—which, by the way, was typical across the ninth grade in the math department. 
Instead of insisting that students retake failed courses and actually work, the school system allows students to take Credit Recovery or equally bogus summer-school courses. Thus students "age-out" of middle school with second-grade skills and "D-out" of high-school courses they rarely attend.

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